Our Journey to the Wizarding World
Hey guys! Last weekend, my husband and I took a trip to the city down under. No, we didn't visit Australia. We stopped just a little South of the Peninsular in Singapore!
A few weeks ago, my sister-in-law told me about a Harry Potter exhibit that's being held in Changi Airport up to mid-February 2019. The pictures looked awesome! They had certain parts of the terminal all done up to look like Hogsmeade, the Grand Staircase in Hogwarts and Diagon Alley. Around the same time, I had come across this Instagram picture from an account I follow called Beautiful Destinations and the picture featured Singapore's Cloud Forest at Gardens by the Bay. The picture was breath-taking. I knew we just had to go and pay a visit!
G and I started planning for the trip. We started by scouting for the cheapest flight tickets and accommodation options. After looking through Air BnB, Agoda, Traveloka, Sky Scanner, etc. we decided to go ahead and book our flight and hotel stay with Air Asia Go. And so, it was finalised! A 2D1N stay at M Social Hotel in Singapore.
It was right around this time that I came across the Klook app. I don't know if it's new or if I'm just a dinosaur that's pretty late on this finding but the app is really useful. It allows users to make prior arrangements on travel activities including entrance tickets, restaurant vouchers, etc. Plus, it also allows you to book internet options ahead of time as well. What I love most about this app is that it has a live chat function. Although most service providers do provide this feature nowadays, I was very impressed with how promptly Klook's chat services responded to my queries. Plus, they give you the option to have the chat transcript e-mailed directly to you for your future reference as well! I had loads of questions regarding some of their vouchers and the chat service definitely helped to clarify on these matters.
Finally, I purchased two vouchers that made our trip that much more convenient: 1) The first voucher was for admission tickets into Singapore Flyer & Gardens by the Bay, plus free gelato! With just one voucher on your mobile phone you can redeem tickets for multiple activities & skip the queue at the ticketing booths at different locations. However, one thing to note here is that although you can skip the queue at the ticketing counters, you will still need to stand in queue for the start of the activity. We went over Christmas weekend so the queues were a little long but not too bad, and 2) The second voucher was for a traveller's sim that you can redeem right at the arrival hall in Changi Airport. This was the best buy in preparation for this trip in my opinion.
When you go on a trip, just as with many other things in life, you face what is known as trade-offs. If you choose to stay at a fancy hotel, you may need to forego on other things in your travel budget. Instead, if you want to splurge on other things you may have to forego a little comfort and opt for a cheaper, smaller place of stay. Likewise, when you go for a short trip, you have a trade-off between money and time. To save money, you can explore the city and travel via cheaper alternatives such as public transport. However, you may be wasting more time than if you just take a cab. Since we only had two days, we realised we didn't have the luxury of time and had to forego a little extra money to make the most of the trip. This is where the traveller's sim that comes with 100 GB data that lasts 7 days from activation comes in handy. We mostly relied on Grab to get about in the city and that saved us a lot of time.
If you plan to get a traveller's sim, do try to get one that you can redeem at the arrival hall of the airport. Read the terms carefully to identify where the pick-up point is. The last thing you want when you arrive is to run about across different terminals to redeem your sim card. We left on a Saturday afternoon and reached Singapore by 3pm. As we were about to leave the airport, we stopped at the UOB currency exchange to pick up the traveller's sim. We booked a Grab and zoomed off to the hotel.
M Social is a pretty boutique style hotel with vibrant, artsy decor. It's very cosy and though the rooms are a little small, they are very comfortable. You guys know that line from the Jerry Macguire movie that goes, "You had me at hello?" Well, when it comes to hotels, you have me at free breakfast! P.S. The breakfast was nice!
On our first day in Singapore we visited the Singapore Flyer and Orchard Road. I really enjoyed our walk along Orchard Road, it was so Christmas-y! The decor and energy left me in awe. I went into full on tourist mode as I bought head bands with flashing lights, stopped to listen to awesome buskers along the way and exclaimed every 5-minutes, "G, look at the Christmas tree! So pretty!"
One busker in particular caught our eye. He was from one of the local radio stations and he called out for people to volunteer to sing to win a prize. I was really excited and I wanted to give it a shot. So I shyly approached him and managed to cough out the words, "Could I sing a song?" Despite my heart pounding in my chest, I managed to blurt out the lyrics to Aerosmith's Don't Wanna Miss A Thing horribly off-key as Ralph (the awesome sauce busker) strummed along on his guitar. What a rush!
Then we made a pit-stop at a nearby row of food trucks. We got some chilli-crab flavoured chicken wings, grabbed a seat at one of the picnic benches and enjoyed the live band playing some South American music. I don't know if it was the wings or the music or just getting to sit next to G after all the walking but that moment was blissful.
The next day, we woke up and dashed down for breakfast, YUM! After a hearty meal, we sluggishly got ready, packed our bags and checked out of the hotel. From there, we were off to Gardens by the Bay. We traveled with our back-packs so moving about was pretty easy. We visited three places at the Gardens, namely the OCBC Skyway, Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. This was the highlight of our trip! The most memorable moment of the trip for me was when G and I entered the Cloud Forest to a mountain of green and cascading water falls and we both just went "Wahhhhhh." I don't know how to describe it; my words would not do it justice. All I can say is what I told G, "You know that feeling when we entered and we were just in awe for a second? It was so beautiful that we were left speechless. That felt like falling in love."
Cheesy, I know. But hey, that's me.
After our trip to the Gardens, it was time to Grab our way to the airport. We had a couple of hours before our flight and we wanted to check our the Harry Potter Wizarding World exhibit. Ahhhhhh, it was such a dream! Albeit small, the exhibit was really fun for us Potterheads. We got to take pictures beside the Hogwarts Express, appeasing our childhood dreams of getting our admission letters and boarding that train to a world of magic and wonder. We also got a chance to play some games and get all dressed up in Hogwarts robes at the Madam Malkin's Robes shop in Diagon Alley, G in Ravenclaw blue and myself in Hufflepuff yellow, of course!
The best part, the Wizarding World staff kept thinking we were accompanying our kids or something. We kept smiling coyly and explaining to them that we were the kiddos who wanted to get some Potter action!
Finally, it was time to board the plane and head home. All in all, the trip was a memorable one. It was short but sweet; it felt almost like a pilgrimage for us Potterheads to pay tribute to what brought us closer together. We will forever be that couple waiting in line to take a picture on a Firebolt display meant for kids. And hey, there's nothing wrong in embracing your inner kiddos.